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Does GD Breed Wild Children? - Page 2

post #21 of 128

My GD kiddo is no more or less wild or whiny than my friends kids who are raised with tons of yelling, shame, spanking and unnecessary/unfair time outs (I'm not against time outs but I do think there are many occasions where using them is inappropriate and hurtful.)


The main difference I see between our kids is that my child is easier to correct and will even correct herself at times when she does get wild and disrespectful and that my kiddo seems more confident and attached.  She doesn't cling to me the same way my friend's children do and in fact her children (ages 4 and 2) act more similar to how mine did at 1 when she went through a huge separation anxiety/clingy phase.


Granted, there are plenty of variables that could be the cause of these differences including simply having different personalities (my daughter handles her daddy's deployment worlds better than her children, especially her 4 year old, does) and having two children of course can lead to more problems simply due to sibling rivalry and wanting plenty of mommy time but I definitely prefer not yelling and not shaming.  It creates a more peaceful space even when my 2 year old is still acting like a two year old complete with whining and tantrums, and plenty of wild times.


I don't practice GD to have a better behaved child at all times, I practice to help my child learn how to correct herself and understand why she's doing that.

post #22 of 128

Yes I think that follwowing the GD tennets without also implementing reasonable limits or teaching children that respect needs to flow both to and from them can lead to children who don't have a sense of the needs of others, or how to operate respectfully in community.  


That being said, I think that it's the exception rather than the rule that GD parents don't think through this and do their best to help their children navigate their way through the world successfully.

Most GD parents are pretty mindful. 


post #23 of 128
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

One of my friend's kids was being GD'ed and he could throw a tantrum and get his way for the most crazy things. My friend would claim she was just "listening to him or respecting him as a person" but it entailed her going to the supermarket at 5:45 p.m. because he wanted a certain dinner menu that night.


This isn't GD. This is being permissive and catering to a child's unreasonable demands. A GD way to handle a tantrum about an unreasonable request is to calmly comfort the child, labeling the child's emotion while not giving in. The main difference in handling a tantrum in a GD way is that the parent doesn't punish or isolate the child, but helps them deal with their overwhelming feelings. For example when a parent who is using GD has to leave a park abruptly because it's about to storm, she picks up her tantruming kicking and screaming toddler saying "I'm sorry you're sad, but we have to leave the park. Storms are dangerous." . Then when they are in the car there is no shouting, threatening or lecturing just calm sympathy and maybe a snack. It's not that a parent using GD doesn't say no, it's that they say no in a respectful way. It's the difference between using a time out or a time in. One is isolating and the other is a way of connecting and maybe an opportunity to teach the why behind the no.


Some people are permissive and call it GD. It's not though. GD is still discipline it's just gentle, nonviolent, more sympathetic and often calmer. It's saying something quietly instead of shouting. It's giving explanations along with the demand. It's stopping a dangerous behavior, then talking about it calmly instead of giving a consequence of some kind.


To the main question. I think acting like a little wild child is more a temperament issue than a discipline one. Some kids are just busier, more intense, more high energy than others. I think using GD is more work when they are little and have no impulse control but much less work as they get older.  If you haven't been using punishment your child has no reason to hide things or sneak. If you've been discussing the whys behind all of your nos and boundaries, your child is more able to recognize good choices. My DD is very intense and high energy, but now at 5 is an empathetic, polite, charming but still busy kid. She doesn't get into stuff she's not supposed to have, she isn't destructive and plays on her own. When she is bossy or whiny,  really normal 5 year old stuff, we let her know it's rude and not how we treat each other.

post #24 of 128

Yes, it really does work. I get comments on how polite and well-behaved my kids are all the time. People are particularly impressed with how well they behave when we're not around and how well they're able to articulate their feelings and concerns.


A great example from today:


Dd (age 6, nearly 7) was upset after school today because I can't go with her class on the field trip tomorrow. She sounded jealous and disappointed because she really wanted me to go. (As a university professor, I have a flexible schedule, but when the field trip starts at 9 am, and I teach at 9 am, I can't go.) She was whining. And crying.


I was having one of my better GD days, so instead of just sending her to her room to get her whines out (as I sometimes do), I invited her up to my room to snuggle on the bed. I did this because I knew that she'd been short on 'momma time' lately because I'd been sick last week, and as soon as I got well, dh came down with the stomach flu I'd had, and then ds got it. We'd been in survival mode for about a week.


We snuggled for a bit while dd cried. I did all the "How to Talk..." language and just let her cry. In a few minutes, it came out that she was nervous about being in a field trip group with a parent she didn't know.  We talked. I asked her if it would help to call her teacher and tell her that dd wanted to be in a group with either the teacher or the aide. Dd sobbed that teacher had told them they didn't get to pick their groups. I told her that we could talk to her teacher, and that I bet we could work something out.  I called school, talked to the teacher, and explained the situation. The teacher was relieved to know, and quickly changed dd's group. Dd had burst into tears at the end of the school day and had only told her teacher that she was sad that I couldn't come. Once I told dd that she would be in the aide's group, she cheered right up. Problem solved.

I guess my point of the long story is: If I hadn't done the whole "how to talk.." type validating dd's feelings, I would never have gotten to the bottom of what was bothering her. If I hadn't had the insight to know that what dd really needed was to snuggle, I wouldn't have been in a position to do the talk that got to the bottom of what was bothering her. As it was, we could, and the situation improved. I'm not always that insightful or patient, but it was enough for today. After we solved the 'problem' we spent a little time playing stuffed animals (Playful Parenting is another favorite parenting book.) The connection that we built lasted long enough that dd was able to weather her disappointment 30 minutes later of having to be dragged to her brother's baseball game with dad.


Originally Posted by philomom View Post

Yes, I think it does. When you know there very little consequence for your actions.. you tend to get away with what you can.

One of my friend's kids was being GD'ed and he could throw a tantrum and get his way for the most crazy things. My friend would claim she was just "listening to him or respecting him as a person" but it entailed her going to the supermarket at 5:45 p.m. because he wanted a certain dinner menu that night.

If my kids had thrown the same tantrum, I would have sent them to their room to calm down and then shown them the appropriate other dinner choices like a peanut butter sandwich or a bowl of cereal. Not even my hubby can alter the dinner menu that late in the day.


As others have argued, there's a difference between no discipline and gentle discipline. I would have done what you did and I consider it GD.


For example: My dd is free to show her emotions (and she's got a lot of big ones). She's not free to make the rest of the family miserable because of it. We're making progress I think. She was having issues tonight (she was tired, had had a big day) and was having a minor fit when she went up to brush her teeth. She closed the bathroom door while she brushed her teeth and had her little cry without inflicting it on the whole family. She fell asleep about 5 minutes after getting into  bed, so I know being tired was the problem.

Originally Posted by mamakay View Post

How do you define "punitive?"


I would define it as something that's intended solely to make the child feel sorry or to make the 'pay' for what they did, with no thought to what they're learning from it. So, grounding your child because they mouthed off to you is punitive. Grounding your child for an evening because they couldn't stay away from a downed powerline is not.  (The one and only time I ever got grounded as a child was in the downed powerline scenario. My parents didn't believe in grounding, and I don't either.)

Originally Posted by mamakay View Post

Are time outs and rewards "not GD?"



They can be. Is the time out because your child needs time to cool down? That's GD. Is it to make them 'pay' for their misbehavior? Then it's not. GD is much more subtle than it might appear at first glance. A lot of it depends on your reason and philosophy for doing things. As such, it really requires some pretty deep introspection, as others have noted. Why am I doing this? Why is my child doing this? What can help my child learn the skills they need?


As I noted above, our dd gets sent to her room fairly often. But it's not punitive. It's just that I can't stand to hear her whine. (It's getting better, but it's taken a lot of work on our part.)


I've done rewards sparingly. There's good evidence that if you use rewards you focus the child on external motivation and they often lose internal motivation. One of the basic 'tenets' of GD, as far as I'm concerned, is that you assume your child wants to do well, and you work with them to help that come through. So, I dont believe in rewards for things like daily chores or grades or general good behavior. At times, however, a child needs to learn a specific skill -- that skill could be learning to keep their hands to themselves and not hit or it could be learning to wipe their own bottom. In those cases, rewards can work wonders to teach a very specific thing. At least they worked wonders teaching my ds to wipe his own darn bottom. Dd is completely unmotivated by rewards!


Originally Posted by treeoflife3 View Post

I don't practice GD to have a better behaved child at all times, I practice to help my child learn how to correct herself and understand why she's doing that.



post #25 of 128

It's true that when you have an eight-month-old, you really haven't been challenged in terms of your own limits, so it's hard to say what you'll do in the future when your kid does the sometimes shocking and horrible things they all do without knowing. Like, what will you do when your kid smashes his head against yours on purpose? Or bites you? Bites your friend's kid? Lies about another kid just to get the kid in trouble? There are endless discipline challenges ahead and it's hard to know how that will rub against your own past, trigger you in some way and make you want to scream. That said, I do think you are on the right path, but you also need something else as a parent to stay on that path, something that I don't think these books talks about. When things start to get tough, maybe in about two more years, or when you have your next child, you're going to need to take care of yourself by meditating or doing something that can center you when times get tough. And they will. And you will want to yell or put your kid in time out or even criticize. It's hard to imagine now, but every attached parent I know has lost it or lost themselves at some time. I don't think gentle discipline leads to a wild kid. No discipline or inconsistent discipline does. You will need to say no. You will need to remove your child from situations. Instead of a time out, for example, when your child bites a kid, you lovingly leave the playdate. No second chances. You are still with your child, loving them, but they have lost the privilege to continue playing. If your child lies to get another child in trouble, they need to apologize in person to all people concerned and do something that they come up with to make up for what they've done. So you aren't spanking (aka beating) your child, you aren't sticking them in time-out (aka prison/rejection) and you aren't criticizing them (aka destroying their self-esteem). You are showing them that when they hurt another person, the fun for everyone ends and later, you're making them take responsibility for their actions when they are old enough.

post #26 of 128
I don't believe it leads to wild children. Like everyone else, I think inconsistant parenting does. My 4 1/2 year old certainly has the energy level of a 4 1/2 year old, but he's much more calm than the kids at many of his activities whose parents just ignore their children's behavior. He's not wild or out of control.

In our house, decisions have consequences, and he knows that. For instance, he gets the same meals as my husband and I. He has the choice of not eating whatever I put in front of him, but he knows there will be no other food until the next meal. If it's dinner and there was a desert, I remind him as he's choosing, that he wont get the desert his father & I will be having, because he has to eat the healthy to get any junk. He knows we wont say that and not follow through, so, most nights, he eats with no issues (and he eats stuff most of our friends are amazed at, but he doesn't get seperate meals). Every now and then, he chooses not to, and he doesn't eat until breakfast. It's his choice, and I'm fine with him making that choice. He doesn't throw a fit about it, he either eats or he doesn't.

We do occasionally use time outs, which I know some people are okay with under GD and others are not. We used them by removing him from situations he was unable to handle (our big time out getters are violence and being cruel to someone else), and time out consisted of us talking to him about what was going on - why it's never okay to hit anyone, even pets. What that does to the person/animal you're hitting, etc. Now, we almost never need to take time outs, and he'll occasionally say, I need some time alone, and go to his room. He chooses to remove himself from a situation that is too much for him to handle. We give him his space, and he comes back when he feels better.

It works for us, and I do think it works for most people if consistancy is key. If there's no consistancy - he whines about dinner one night and gets a fluffernutter, why wouldn't he whine every night? And kids are smart - they remember very well when they were given into, and it's not a hard leap to get to, well, if I keep whinning, maybe they give in again.
post #27 of 128
Also, I think it's funny to add that we don't yell at our kid, we've never hit him, and we just talk him through any issues, yet we've been told how strict we are as parents. Because we don't ingore discipline. There's definitely a difference.
post #28 of 128

I'm in the camp of Some are wild no matter what and some are mild no matter what.  


DD1 is 5.  She can be incredibly high needs and challenging.  Some people are shocked at how full on she is.  Some tell me she's a normal child and my expectations are crazy.  Some people tell me my attempts at GD have made her act how she does, some have told me doing GD "wrong" has made her act like she does.  Whatever, it's always agreed that anything she does is my fault (and she agrees too!).  I don't smack but i sure want to.  Sometimes when i've tried every single suggestion in the GD handbooks and DD is throwing my efforts back in my face i wonder why i don't smack, but i still don't.


Her sister is only 11 months old but is already INCREDIBLY mellow by comparison.  Maybe she will be easier on me to raise, maybe she won't.


Ultimately i practice GD so *I* can have peace that i tried my best at the way i thought was best.  I don't expect it to bring about wild/tame/perfect/terrible people.  I think that parenting cannot overcome personality.

post #29 of 128

GD doesn't breed wildness because the child knows that there are rules and boundaries, but they are supported through gentle guidance and loving assistance, not through draconian measures. Some kids do have more of a fire in the belly or mischief in the heart, but I think they'd end up less wild with GD than with a more authoritarian style of child-rearing.


I think that Kohn is right that kids will ultimately "do as we do, and say what we say, but they will not do what we say" if our actions are not in line with our professed values.


GD principles (I think) will push you towards being an authoritative parent (as opposed to authoritarian or permissive).GD principles help the parent be the one who guides, sets age-appropriate boundaries and limits, and allows kids to make mistakes, learn consequences, and figure out how to become a polite, respectful, resourceful person over the course of the 18+ years that the child is in your house. Respect breeds respect -- GD encourages the parent to look at situations through the child's eyes and to have empathy, even when your kid is misbehaving. GD does not punish a child in order to shame, humiliate, or cow them into submission.


I think it's also true that if kids don't have rigid boundaries, they have less to push against and tend not to get as wild. I often think of what a horseback riding instructor of mine told me about how to hold the reins: "Think of the reins as little birds. You don't want to hold them so loosely that the bird flies away, nor so tight that you crush it to death."

post #30 of 128


Originally Posted by annakiss View Post
I believe that time outs and rewards as assumed tools are counter-productive to my goals, as they are as coercive as punishment, if not as harsh as corporal punishment. Not everyone believes that, I understand, but I feel like it's difficult to deny. I realize that most people seem them as tools to achieving a pleasant workable life.

I can see a time-out or reward be either appropriate or inappropriate. So much depends on the situation and the child.


Example: Kid is throwing food on the floor at dinner.

If it's a 10 month old, taking kid away from table is not appropriate to that developmental stage. Useless punishment.

If it's my 3 1/2 year old, my response at this point is: "Throwing food is impolite, and we practice good manners at the table so everyone can enjoy their meal. You have a choice: you can stop throwing food on the floor, or you can be exucsed from the table until you are ready to come back with a dustpan and whisk broom. I will help you clean it up, and you can resume the meal with us. Which one do you want to do?" If he picks former and continues the behavior, he is told that he is now excused and can leave the table, the food is moved aside, and he's told he can finish it when he's ready.

If we are at a restaurant, I'd take the him to the bathroom or outside for a time-in, talk about manners (maybe I'd suggest we play a game of being posh or something to refocus him on manners once we are back). If it seemed like he was just too tired/wired/crazy and we needed to cut bait and leave the restaurant, we would. (This has never happened. He is super-good at restaurants. The home scenario has happened though).


I would not give a reward to get a kid to stop whining for candy in a grocery store or for cleaning up something I had asked him to clean up. But if you need a little encouragement to get over a hump with potty-learning, a sticker chart or a jar of M&Ms seems like an okay motivator. I would also feel fine about asking the kid to sit through something distasteful with the promise of relief at the end -- I am asking you to be polite and quiet while I make this business call. After I am done, I will go outside with you and we can play. To me, that is okay and not coercive. It recognizes that these things are hard for kids and that he should be 'rewarded' for being held on a tight rein with getting to run wild for a little while.


But at 3 1/2, we are still in the 'easy' stage of parenting with fairly concrete issues rather than more nuanced emotional and social ones.


post #31 of 128
Originally Posted by kcparker View Post


I think that Kohn is right that kids will ultimately "do as we do, and say what we say, but they will not do what we say" if our actions are not in line with our professed values.


Is this a direct Kohn quote? I really like it and hope you remember where it is from... I haven't read much Kohn, but I will, if just to find this quote :)

post #32 of 128

It depends on the child... it works great with some kids and with others you need more of a hybrid approach.  I have to be very stern/ strict with one of my DD in a way that would not be considered AP but I always stick to the basic AP/GD tenant of no physical discipline, no verbal demeaning.  Yet with other of my kids AP/GD works like a charm.

post #33 of 128

I am not there yet as I only have an 8 month old as well and this is something DH and I have been talking about more and more because we know where we fall but not exactly on the same page and this is one area where we both know in order to be effective we do have to be on the same page. I know DH is more of a authoritative person where as I am somewhere in the middle.  I know we will have high expectations and certain things just are not negotiable. However my biggest hurdle is DH and he is getting better at it but realizing what is age appropriate development wise. Like right now DD has tantrums when she don't get what she wants. Redirection at this point is a 50/50 shot with her she wants what she wants and that it on some things..lol 



I think from my own experience on the outside looking in, that often times it isn't the form of discipline that fails as much as it is the parent who failed at it. I think GD can be a very valuable way to do things just as I think it can also do unintended damage if not done right if the person don't understand it. 







post #34 of 128

One important thing about tantrums is that having tantrums is how a LO learns to deal with overwhelming emotions. It's developmentally useful and is a step toward eventual emotional maturity. So you don't want to discourage them but support your DC when tantrums occur. Trying to make all the tantrums stop can lead your toddler to ignore their emotions instead of learn to deal with them. That can mean they never become emotionally mature. Sure tantrums are annoying in a 2 year old, but more socially debilitating in a 22 year old.

post #35 of 128
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post

Maybe I missed the boat somewhere, but I thought that some of the core tenents of GD (in addition to listening/respect) was setting boundaries as well as implementing consequences when those boundaries are breached.  I think perhaps your friend was cherry-picking certain aspects of GD but not setting boundaries.  To me, that is not GD, but no discipline at all.

I agree with you one hundred percent.

Unfortunately, the "no discipline at all in the guise of GD" is often what you see described here on MDC (and elsewhere). It is easy to come away from an encounter with someone like this with the impression that GD means never saying no, never setting boundaries, always respecting the child's desires no matter how disruptive to the family - all on the theory that to do otherwise is somehow to "stifle" the child's spirit.
post #36 of 128
Originally Posted by woodchick View Post

Is this a direct Kohn quote? I really like it and hope you remember where it is from... I haven't read much Kohn, but I will, if just to find this quote :)

It might have been from How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen, but I am pretty sure it's Kohn from Playful Parenting...I read those books simultaneously, so they are sort of mushed together in my brain.


post #37 of 128
Originally Posted by kcparker View Post

It might have been from How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen, but I am pretty sure it's Kohn from Playful Parenting...I read those books simultaneously, so they are sort of mushed together in my brain.


Thanks! I'll keep my eye out for it :)


post #38 of 128

quote: "Why am I doing this? Why is my child doing this? What can help my child learn the skills they need?"


Good things to remember. I think I will have to write them on the wall. :)

post #39 of 128
Originally Posted by kcparker View Post

It might have been from How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen, but I am pretty sure it's Kohn from Playful Parenting...I read those books simultaneously, so they are sort of mushed together in my brain.



Actually, the author of Playful Parenting is Larry Cohen, not to be confused with Alfie Kohn, who wrote Unconditional Parenting. I'm a huge fan of Playful Parenting. Unconditional Parenting has some good ideas, but I suspect it would be better for someone who's trying to shift away from a punitive mindset. Playful Parenting has really really helped me look at what I do with my kids and how spending positive time with them really pays off. Dd and I spent a good 30 minutes playing stuffed animals today and ds and I spent 15 minutes playing kitchen basketball (nerf hoop). The connection we get from spending time doing this helps us weather the rough times.


post #40 of 128
Thread Starter 

Thank you all SOOOO much for your replies!! They really helped me understand GD much better and know that we can raise our son respectfully. I'm going to send a link to this thread to my hubby so we can both stay on the same page (no pun intended!). And I'm going to save and print some of your responses that really helped me see what this GD 'thing" is all about!


I appreciate it so much!!



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